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Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Diaspora Jews will now be able to call for a Knesset committee debate

Diaspora Jews will now be able to call for a Knesset committee debate
COMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION, ABSORPTION AND DIASPORA AFFAIRS
PRESS RELEASE
Jerusalem, 13 June 2012
23 Sivan 5772

In light of the proposal to establish a Jewish parliament or a Jewish People’s
Initiative, MK Einat Wilf, Chair of the Knesset Sub-Committee on Ties
between Israel and the Jewish People said that a request by a few thousand
Jews on Facebook will lead to a Committee debate

Today, the Knesset Sub-Committee on Ties between Israel and the Jewish
People took the first step to creating a Knesset that will also represent
the Jewish People in the diaspora. The Sub-Committee discussed the proposal
by Joelle Fiss, a British Jew currently resident in the United States, to
create a “Jewish People’s Initiative” on the pattern of the European Union
Citizens’ Initiative. Fiss recently published her ideas in her book:
“Tiptoeing on Minefields”. The Committee Chair, MK Einat Wilf (Atzma’ut),
was quick to partially adopt some of her proposals and announced that a
request by a few thousand Jews, from at least three different Jewish
communities, registered by email or by “Likes” on Facebook, will lead her to
initiate a debate by the Committee she chairs on the requested issue.

Wilf stressed that “consultation between the official institutions of the
State of Israel and the Jewish People are essential, and it is important to
listen and to understand the issues they face. [This consultation must be]
not only with heads of a few Jewish organizations who meet periodically with
ministers and Prime Ministers, but also with all the many Jews around the
world.”

Joelle Fiss called for an open dialogue in real time, with the involvement
of all the existing organizations, but also of individual Jews. She noted
that any world Jewish parliament or initiative should also represent small
communities just as much as the large ones and all the streams in Judaism.
On the one hand, she said, it must reflect the fact that 80% of world Jewry
today lives in Israel and the United States but must also give weight to the
rest of the Diaspora. Current technology makes it possible to follow and
participate in the debates from anywhere in the world. Her first proposal
is that a request from %0.2 of Diaspora Jewry should oblige the Knesset to
hold a debate on the relevant issue.

Marina Solodkin, MK (Kadima), added that “to a certain extent, Facebook is
already doing this today, making contact with all Jews around the world
simultaneously”, while Avinoam Bar-Yosef, President of the Jewish People
Policy Institute, stressed that Israel must accept mutual responsibility
with the Jewish People and take their needs into account.” Dani Wassner,
Media Director of the Jewish Federations of North America, also welcomed the
proposal, noting that Diaspora Jews must feel that their voice is heard in
Israel and specifically in the Knesset.

Peleg Reshef, Deputy Executive Director of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps,
protested at how little Israeli governments take Diaspora Jewry into
consideration but pointed out that it is not necessary to create an
institution for every initiative, with a name and a clear framework, and
called for the expansion of existing forums at the Knesset and the
Presidential establishment. Ephraim Lapid, a former senior director in the
Jewish Agency, countered by mentioning that “Already today, IDF strategic
exercises take into account considerations for the security of the Jewish
People and takes their needs very seriously. Yogev Karasenty of Limmud
Jerusalem called for the establishment of a Jewish council attached to the
Knesset that would provide consultation regarding what issues should be
raised and discussed.

A presentation shown at the meeting that includes the main points of the
proposal is enclosed.

To watch the broadcast of the meeting:
http://portal.knesset.gov.il/Com27alia/he-IL/CommitteeBroadcast/default.htm

For further information:
Yigal Amitai, Committee Spokesman
050-6238671; 02-6753115
Knesset website: www.knesset.gov.il

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